The Best Material Resource Ever?
There was a lot of talk in out first input session on defining what we mean by materials and examples of what materials are out there. What struck me particularly was that there was very little mention of learners as materials. I kept thinking ‘What about the learners?’ If what they have to say and contribute can be used as the material then maybe we’re tapping into the most relevant, real world and communicative materials ever. If materials are ‘anything that can be used to facilitate the learning of the language’ (Tomlinson 2012:143), then surely learners are materials? But during the session another teacher referred to mini-white boards as a material, and I started thinking about the difference between materials and resources.
My instinct on this is that materials provide input, whereas resources are what we use to explore, provide or generate input (which includes mini-white boards, Cuisenaire rods, IWBs, etc). So does this make learners a material or a resource?
I’ve always referred in the past to learner as resource (see Observed Lesson 2 for example), but can what learners contribute be considered input? In peer and teacher support such as scaffolding and reformulation, I believe so. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Maybe it depends on the individual learner and the level.
Food for thought.
Tomlinson, B. (2012) State-of-the-Art Article: Materials development for language learning and teaching. Language Teaching 45 (2): pp.143-179.